FRANCISTOWN: Botswana Chamber of Mines (BCM) are bracing themselves for more problems after apprentices under the Chamber’s scholarship engaged lawyers to fight the organisation over the abrupt halting of their scholarships.
The cat-and-mouse game between the BCM and its students started in December 2017 after the former unexpectedly told the students to stop attending lectures at the Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE).
Chamber of Mines cited cash flow problems for the abrupt announcement in the wake of the cessation of operations by some mining houses.
The miners cited low commodity prices amongst a myriad of reasons for their closure.
Since then, the local mining chapter has never known financial peace. Just recently, BCM started to pay its former lecturers half of their unpaid salaries and a portion of their leave days.
The lecturers had taken the court route to force their erstwhile employer to pay them their dues.
In another related development, over 60 students based at FCTVE have engaged Yindani Boko Law Firm following the abrupt discontinuation of their studies and monthly allowances.
A letter from attorney Yindani Boko dated February 18 , 2018 and seen by Mmegi partly reads: “We have in our possession copies of contracts between yourselves (BCM) and the said apprentices.
The contents of the said contracts have amongst other things clauses of monthly allowances, duration of apprenticeships and annual leave.”
“Our clients advise us that they have not received their monthly allowances from November 2018 to date. Further that no reason was given for the said cessation of allowances either in writing or verbally.
Our clients further advise us that sometime in January 2018, they were verbally advised to stop attending classed and were sent back home.
Further that sometime in April 2018, they were credited with P700 each.
We pause and advise that all this was contrary to the parties’ contract. Our instructions are to request for a meeting and seek clarity on the stated concerns and map the way forward. We await a prompt response.”
Although BCM chief executive officer, Charles Siwawa has denied seeing the letter, an impeccable source said there was no way how he (CEO) could not have seen the letter.
The letter sent to this reporter shows that Maikutlo Mogopodi from BCM received the letter on February 19 and even appended her signature on the letter.
“Mogopodi is a receptionist at the BCM headquarters in Gaborone. After BCM received the letter, they started to call the students individually telling them to start attending classes with immediate effect. After the students received phone calls from BCM, they informed their attorney about the calls,” the source said.
“The attorney then warned the students against such a move. The attorney advised the students that BCM’s move was just a divide and rule tactic meant to mislead them. The students then heeded the advice of their attorney.”